The Recombobulation Area: “SPECIAL REPORT: RNC bookings ‘underwhelming’ and a ‘failure,’ event venues and restaurants raise concerns”

Jun 26, 2024

The Recombobulation Area: “SPECIAL REPORT: RNC bookings ‘underwhelming’ and a ‘failure,’ event venues and restaurants raise concerns”

MADISON, Wis. — With the Republican National Convention (RNC) just weeks away, new reporting shows the RNC is repeating Donald Trump’s mantra of ‘overpromise, underdeliver’ for Wisconsin as Milwaukee event venues and restaurant owners aren’t seeing the economic boost they were promised – and prominent business owners are raising concerns that businesses across the city “might not be able to afford being closed for a week.”

This reporting underscores the RNC’s and Donald Trump’s pattern of breaking promises to, insulting, and failing to deliver for Milwaukee. Just last week, after the RNC committed to keep the convention “local to Wisconsin,” reports showed that, instead of supporting a local Milwaukee hotel, Donald was planning to line his own pockets by staying in Chicago at Trump Tower during the RNC.  

“It should surprise nobody that Donald Trump and MAGA Republicans are once again breaking promises to our state – and Wisconsin businesses and workers are suffering as a result,” Wisconsin Democratic Coordinated Campaign Rapid Response Director Kristi Johnston said. “Even when it comes to where to sleep at night, Trump chose to try and line his own pockets by staying at Trump Tower in Chicago instead of supporting local Milwaukee businesses. Trump already got caught dodging our ‘horrible city’ last week – now, he’s caught hurting our local economy. Wisconsin voters are fed up.”

The Recombobulation Area: SPECIAL REPORT: RNC bookings “underwhelming” and a “failure,” event venues and restaurants raise concerns
[Dan Shafer, 6/26/24]

Excerpts below: 

Milwaukee is preparing for a busy week with the RNC coming to town, but with just weeks to go before the convention begins, some are raising concerns about a lackluster level of events being booked during the convention, raising questions about whether the convention will deliver on promises of economic impact.  

Gary Witt, president and CEO of the Pabst Theater Group, told The Recombobulation Area that the majority of the group’s venues will have no events booked for the RNC. 

Two of downtown Milwaukee’s most iconic venues, the Pabst Theater and Riverside Theater, will likely sit empty during the convention, he said, as will the Vivarium and The Fitzgerald, which are both located on Milwaukee’s East Side. […]

Witt characterized the RNC planning as “underwhelming” and a “failure.”

“It’s 100% a case of ‘overpromise, underdeliver,’ on all parts, by everybody,” he said.

“We were told it was going to be one way over and over and over and over again when (the RNC) was confirmed, and it has turned out to be almost anything but the way that we were told it was going to turn out,” Witt said. “We were sold a storyline of how this is going to go, and basically it didn’t go anything at all like the storyline that we were sold.”


“While I am saddened about the lack of business in our venues, I am even more concerned about how this incredibly disappointing lack of events will impact our restaurants and small event spaces, who might not be able to afford being closed for a week,” he wrote in the message.


The response Witt received from the RNC after sending the message, he said, was “disappointing.”

“I think there was basically a kind of throwing-up-the-arms moment for them where they made claims that they never promised we’d be booked,” said Witt. “And like I said, first and foremost, this is not about me and about us only. This is about the city in general, And frankly, (the RNC) did promise, because (they) talked about the economic impact for the city.”